Home Associations ESPO Award 2017 Shortlisted projects: Port of Oslo

ESPO Award 2017 Shortlisted projects: Port of Oslo

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31 October 2017

The ESPO Award 2017 will be presented to the port authority that succeeds best in the societal integration of the port with the city or wider community in which it is located, through involvement in art or culture. The five projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Antwerp, Brest, Guadeloupe, Venice and Oslo.

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the official Award Ceremony at La Tentation in Brussels on 8 November 2017.

#Port of Oslo

Oslo’s Harbour Promenade

ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2017! Could you briefly describe your project?

Oslo’s Harbour Promenade, which is nine kilometres long, outlines the city along the waterfront from Kongshavn in the east to Frognerkilen in the west. The Promenade connects the city to the fjord and east to west. With its adjoining parks and urban spaces, it makes the Fjord City accessible to everybody in Oslo. It was important for the port authority to ensure that the Harbour Promenade provides an offer which is free and gives room for all, including those who occupied the area before the Promenade was established.

When fully developed, the Promenade will offer space for street life, events and recreation, art and architecture, sports and leisure, swimming and strolling. Boats of every type will be found along the Promenade, from charter vessels and ferries to cruise and passenger ships, kayaks and small pleasure boats. The Port of Oslo invites all the inhabitants to enjoy an Open Day with a lot of activities.

The Promenade will consist of nine sections, each with its own character and history. A limited number of elements from the original structure and colours have been chosen along the Promenade, like the orange containers that show visitors the way. These signs are ‘beacons’ made of standard shipping containers standing on edge. Two sides of these containers are decorated: one side features general information about the Promenade, while the other side features an episode of a cartoon series from the sixties with the harbour as setting that can be followed from place to place along the Promenade.

The Promenade was officially opened in June 2015. It comprises both permanent installations and temporary projects. An import decision was to enable temporary installations for the testing of ideas and concepts in order to assess whether they are suitable for permanent incorporation into the Promenade. This means that large parts of the Promenade are under continuous development in line with the completion of the new urban districts. Therefore, the whole Promenade will not be completed before 15 to 20 years. Consequently, great emphasis has been laid on creating good temporary links binding the various sections together, also during the construction phase.

(c) Ramboll

ESPO: How does your project contribute to the societal integration of the port?

Collaborating on the development of the Harbour Promenade has helped us to improve our relation with the municipality. Through close dialogue and by enhancing knowledge of the port’s role, mutual respect for each other’s goals and operation has increased. As part of this collaboration, the port authority has developed a guide which explains what a port is and which space it requires on the water and on the land. The guide describes for example in a popularised way what a ‘bollard’ and a ‘fender’ are, why space is needed on shore for landing, what the ISPS code is and what happens when a ship docks. The guide also shows how the quays will be developed in the future: where the cruise ships and ferries will berth, where pleasure boats can berth for ‘kiss and sail’, where sea bathing will be possible etc.

Through a vigorous approach and collaboration with private players, we have established testbeds such as “Shed 13” (an indoor skating rink), “Vippa” (a food hall with concerts and other cultural activities) and “SALT” (an art project combining culture with dining). These tests also provide some revenues to the port.

Thanks to the development and upgrading of the Promenade, we have built a better reputation as a property owner in the city, which cares and which takes the development and transformation of Oslo serious.

ESPO: Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?

The development of the Fjord City has been one of the major urban planning initiatives in Oslo during the past century. Establishing a continuous Harbour Promenade is a key move in realising this vision. As in many other European port cities, a transformation of the urban environment is taking place as port activities are being moved out  of the central area and replaced by residential and commercial development. Many cities have created harbour promenades, but none are surely as long or as interesting as the one in Oslo!

What distinguishes Oslo from many other cities is the conscious decision to divide the Promenade into several different sections, each with its own identity. This gives users many different impressions, depending on where they choose to walk. The decision to use a signage programme comprising standard shipping containers to show people the way is also unique. They are not only highly visible in colour and size, but they also provide information while additionally illustrating the significance of containers as a transport mode.

(c) Nils Petter Dale

ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2017?

We have made a difference in Oslo with small steps and investments. In a short period of time, we have made a harbour promenade with both permanent facilities  and temporary installations that surprises.  You will always experience something new on the harbour promenade.

The harbour promenade has become the new place to be and to take a stroll – both for the people of Oslo and for tourists.

The port has actively sought cooperation with both the municipality, and the public and private actors in order to achieve fast results, as well as to get good cooperative relations with key stakeholders.

ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?

The Harbour Promenade in Oslo should be experienced. We gladly welcome visitors from other ports to be inspired. Together with the municipality we have established a Facebook page that communicates news about what is happening on the Harbour Promenade (Follow us on the Oslo Promenade in Oslo – Oslo municipality). You  can also read about the Harbour Promenade at  www.oslohavn.no  and www.oslokommune.no.


“The Port of Oslo is proud to facilitate and to be an enthusiastic partner in transforming the Harbour Promenade. We take care of the history and embrace new development. Our port is at the heart of the city and as head of the Port of Oslo, I am thrilled to see the number of people who are frequenting and enjoying the atmosphere and the restaurants, and who participate in the activities.”

Ingvar M. Mathisen, CEO of the Port of Oslo

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